Are you prepared for your annual review?

Are you prepared for your annual review?

21 August, 2015

A workplace performance review can be a source of stress and anxiety, especially if it doesn’t go as well as you had hoped. If you find yourself facing a bad performance review, there are things you can do to make the best of the situation, both during the review itself and going forward.

During the review

Getting a bad review can be upsetting, but resist the urge to get defensive or upset. A negative review isn’t the end of the world. If you handle it professionally, you can even earn increased respect and goodwill from your manager.

It is imperative to remain calm throughout. One of the best ways to do that is by preparing in advance. Prepare a list of your accomplishments and areas of weakness before your review, and be ready to discuss them. Taking an honest look at your performance will help you avoid surprises during the meeting.

When you receive negative feedback, thank the reviewer, and do not argue, as it will only make you appear defensive. It won’t make things better, and could damage your overall reputation by making you seem like someone who can’t accept constructive criticism. Take time to digest what you were just told.

Appreciate the negative feedback as an opportunity to improve going forward. Do not be shy to ask your reviewer for help if you need it: a performance review is the perfect time to ask for training or coaching to help you do your job better. Make sure you leave the meeting with a clear understanding of your responsibilities going forward.

After the review

Focus on the future; think about how you will improve going forward, rather than wallowing in the past. Show that you want to improve on your areas of weakness. Prepare ideas about how to improve your performance, and in conjunction with your manager, set regular, achievable goals to help you get there.

Do not pass the buck along. Your superiors do not want to hear excuses for what went wrong; they want to know that you understand the problem, and are taking concrete steps to fix it.

If you still feel like some of the criticism was unmerited after you have taken a few days to honestly reflect on it, schedule a follow-up meeting with your reviewer, and rebut the inaccurate areas with concrete examples of your performance. Be careful here; some criticisms are simply not important enough to be worth re-visiting. It might be best to just move on.

Perhaps most importantly, ask your manager for regular feedback going forward. With regular feedback and your own honest self-assessments of your performance, a negative review should not come as a surprise. If you only get feedback at your performance reviews, be proactive and seek out additional feedback, both in general at regular intervals, as challenging situations arise, and after the completion of large files or projects. 

One final thing to consider: sometimes, your current job just might not be the right fit, no matter how competent an employee you are or how good an employer yours is. In those cases, there is nothing wrong with exploring other options. There are many things you can do while you are still employed to explore other opportunities while keeping your search confidential. Cautiously approach people in your network without directly asking if they are hiring. If you don’t like your current role, speak with people in the kind of role you want to be in. Another effective strategy is to meet with a professional recruiter, such as a ZSA recruitment consultant, who will explore opportunities with you while keeping your situation completely confidential.

Please be advised that the information in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice on any subject matter. As with all legal issues, we recommend you consult your lawyer. Accordingly, ZSA Legal Recruitment Limited will bear no liability to the reader, in any form. There are no representations or warranties made as to the accuracy or substantive adequacy of any information provided in this article.


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